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Title:The Idiom of Age in a Popular Kenyan Newspaper Serial
Author:Ogola, GeorgeISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Kenya
popular literature
generation conflicts
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
About person:Wahome MutahiISNI
External links:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40027299
Abstract:This article examines the narratives constructed around age in Kenya. Noting the 'spatial crossings' of the Kenyan subject, who is as much attuned to the village ethos as he is to the globalized world, the article problematizes our approach to the study of age in Africa. It discusses the multiple narratives now constructed around age within the context of a society in rapid flux, especially underscoring its relationship to authority. The article is based on a critical reading of popular fiction, an important site of popular cultural production where the performance of political power is manifest and narratives around power are created and enacted. The work is based in particular on the popular Kenyan newspaper serial 'Whispers', written in the 1980s and 1990s by one of Kenya's leading authors, Wahome Mutahi. This period witnessed ruthless political repression in Kenya when spaces of popular expression were all but monopolized by the government. It is in such sites as 'Whispers' that 'spaces of freedom' emerged, narrating the travails of the period and challenging the 'bounds of the expressible'. Through 'Whispers', the article explores how age and gender are used as 'instrumentalities of political survival' but also how African maledom reacts to the challenges of globalization that threaten to disrupt the status quo, especially regarding the normative grammar of patriarchy. Further, the article explores how the twin elements of gender and age are manipulated by the Kenyan polity but also simultaneously reproduced and contested by society, resulting in a largely contradictory discourse that challenges but at the same time reaffirms the (il)legitimacy of gerontocracy and the sanctity of the male order. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]